William Leonard Roberts II is a clown. He’s a clown who has made a very good living pretending to be a notorious international drug dealer surrounded by guns, henchmen, champagne and women. He is the prime example of just how unreal hip hop has become.
The stories Roberts tells under his rap moniker Rick Ross are likely true stories about Rick Ross. They are not, however, stories about William Leonard Roberts. Roberts is a fake, a phony, an imposter. He began his career rapping in the first person about hustling, murder and a multi-million dollar, crime-fueled lifestyle that he saw on television.
Not only has he stolen another man’s name and life, but his raps push lies to Black children about how great it is to be a murderous drug dealer. Rappers have long ceased being role models in their rhymes, but one could at least ask for some authenticity and a bit of compunction.
The real Rick Ross, the one whose name Roberts stole (and is being sued for stealing), actually made millions of dollars working with Central American drug lords peddling crack cocaine to unsuspecting Black communities and spent 13 years in prison for it. He has been more than conciliatory about his actions and their deleterious effect on urban neighborhoods to this day.
The man who actually lived the life William Roberts raps about now spends his time working with communities to keep kids out of the streets and to dispel the notion that there’s anything glamorous about selling drugs.
The fake Rick Ross, the one who was really an Albany State football player and then a corrections officer during the time he raps about selling kilograms of cocaine and meeting with “the real Noreaga” who purportedly owes him “a hundred favors,” has made his money pushing a story of gangster make believe. But that was all fine and good, all part of the “rap game,” until his verse on the Rockie Fresh song “U.O.E.N.O.” (a cute way to say “you don’t even know”).
“Put molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it / I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it,” Ross rapped.
That stopped the presses. Because even though almost all the fake Rick Ross raps about is murder and profiteering from drug pushing, there’s still a line drawn at condoning rape.
You can rap about selling poison to children, murdering innocents and slapping prostitutes around all you want, but drugging a woman and raping her? That’s a bridge too far.
The fake Rick Ross has insisted that even though his lyrics have been “interpreted as rape” they really aren’t. This statement seems to come from two misunderstandings on his part.
The first is that it’s obvious the fake Rick Ross has no idea what molly is. The drug is the crystal form of pure MDMA, a substance typically found in Ecstasy, and is known for its ability to reduce inhibitions and provide feelings of euphoria. But it’s not a sedative, so dropping it in a woman’s drink wouldn’t help you “take her home and enjoy that” without her even knowing.
Second, he apparently doesn’t understand that enjoying a woman without her consent is rape.
Rather than apologize for what he said, he’s been playing defense all week, attempting to blame listeners for interpreting his lyric about rape as being about rape.
“There was a misunderstanding with a lyric, a misinterpretation where the term ‘rape’ wasn’t used,” he told a New Orleans radio station last week. “I would never use the term ‘rape,’ you know, in my records. And as far as my camp, hip-hop don’t condone that, the streets don’t condone that, nobody condones that.
“I just wanted to reach out to all the queens that’s on my timeline, all the sexy ladies, the beautiful ladies that had been reaching out to me with the misunderstanding,” he continued. “We don’t condone rape and I’m not with that.”
Then he took to Twitter to apologize for the way others had interpreted what he said.
“I don’t condone rape. Apologies for the #lyric interpreted as rape. #BOSS,” Ross tweeted earlier this week. He followed that up by directing a tweet toward Reebok, the company he has a contract with, and women’s group UltraViolet writing, “Apologies to my many business partners, who would never promote violence against women.”
There was just a rape case in Steubenville, Ohio, that illustrated to all of the U.S. that even when a woman (or girl, in that case) intoxicates herself it is still illegal for a man to “enjoy that” without her knowledge or consent.
Steubenville football players Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond probably didn’t think they were condoning or committing rape when they took advantage of a girl who had passed out at a party. But they’re serving at least a year in juvenile hall now, nonetheless.
There’s a lesson from that case that William Leonard Roberts obviously missed and its one that his fans would do well to remember. Far too many folks have this idea that rape is only something that occurs in back alleys when a masked man grabs an unsuspecting woman and violently takes her against her will. Most rapes are perpetrated by someone the victim knows and often someone the victim trusts.
There was a time when it wasn’t cool in hip hop to sell drugs. There was a time in hip hop when it wasn’t cool to disrespect women. There was even a time in hip hop when it wasn’t cool to drink expensive champagne and live in the suburbs. Those days are gone now. I just hope we aren’t witnessing the end of the time when it’s not cool to rap about date rape.